Saving Grace

LIHUE — Grace Yatsko was hurt when she heard about the burglary at Friendship House. 

But that didn’t stop her from giving all she could to her second home and encouraging others to do the same.

“I think Friendship House is an amazing place,” the Kapaa High School student wrote in an email. “I’ve seen the work that Friendship House has done in the community and I want to give back to them.”

Friendship House was burglarized July 15 or 16. Burglars made off with two safes, one of which contained $300, and a cash register, according to Friendship House member Monica Contrades. The intruders broke a latch on one of Friendship House’s windows and took money and equipment totaling between $800 and $1,000.

“I feel terrible about the robbery,” Yatsko said. “It’s a shame to see someone take things from a place that gives so much back to the community.”

After Yatsko wrote a letter to The Garden Island about how Friendship House benefits Kauai, many residents opened their wallets. All together, individuals donated $1,000, according to Contrades, who also wrote a letter honoring Yatsko and her family.

“You know Kauai people, that’s just the way they are,” Contrades said. “When people are in need they really come out and help.”

Donations came from Yatsko’s family and from All Saints Episcopal Church after Yatsko’s letter was read to its congregation. The church’s collection on July 19, totaling $457, was given to Friendship House.

“I think it’s just fantastic,” Yatsko said. “It’s crazy how much the community has supported it thus far.”

Friendship House holds a special place in Yatsko’s heart as she grew up around the facility when her father Jack Yatsko worked there and continues to visit today. A state program, Friendship House supports individuals of 18 years and older who are mentally ill and has helped with Cancer Society fundraisers and the United Way Charity Walk.

“I know a lot of people there and consider them my extended ohana,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have grown up around it.”

Yatsko hopes Kauai will learn more about Friendship House.

“I’m a better person because of Friendship House,” she said. “More people should go and visit it to see it for themselves. They make a difference in people’s lives.”

Donations may be made to Friendship House at 4-1751 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa.

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